AeroPress [split from Starbucks Testing thread on Boston Board]
I have only a passing knowledge of how the Clover works, but from what I've seen, the super-fancy technology behind it can be best replicated at home with a $25 device called the AeroPress.
I picked up one of these over the holidays, and it essentially does the same thing as the Clover, only with a bit of manual pressure. It makes the best cup of home-brewed coffee I've ever had, takes about 30 seconds, and is nearly foolproof. I can't recommend it enough. [end of evangelical gadget ranting]
I also dig the aeropress. I found out about it from another local CH thread, I'm sure, or blog article comparing the Clover to it.
After some weeks of use I'm not completely convinced by the flavour I get from the aeropress compared to my (not especially posh) home drip machine. The aeropress is different, not necessarily better. But it's a fantastic device for making a single serving.
When I got mine I was really disappointed in it. Convinced I was doing something wrong, I found a forum on coffeegeek.com about the Aeropress where Alan Adler, the inventor, was giving usage tips. Following his suggestions, I've made much better coffee with it:
1. Grind your coffee powder-fine.
2. Don't use boiling water -- use water off the boil at around 175 degrees.
3. Experiment with different ratios of the extract to water. Some folks like a 3:1 ratio, other people like it at 2:1 for a more Americano flavor.
4. Making smaller amounts (like you say, a single serving) seems to work better than larger batches.
I always take the Aeropress when we travel. Love it-- use the hotel coffee pot to make hot water and then press it in my own press.
They have the Aeropress and it's filters at the Concord shop in Concord MA. I do have to get back there. They also have some of the best glass refrigerator storage containers- I'm replacing all the plastic we used to use.
If you like Americanos, whether hot or iced, the AeroPress is awesome. However, it isn't really suitable for a regular cup of coffee. The brew is too strong and concentrated. It must be diluted, becoming essentially an Americano, before drinking. I suppose you could fiddle to find the precise amount of coffee needed for a cup of Joe, but I gave up. Within its limits, though, the AeroPress does make delicious coffee.
AeroPress "espresso" has the opposite problem: it is too thin and there is no crema. The AeroPress is also unsuitable when you need to make coffee for a large group. While it takes very little time to brew a cup, I wouldn't want to make a dozen cups in succession.
I think the biggest problem the AeroPress has is its marketing as an "espresso" maker. The stuff that comes out of it is too concentrated to be drunk as coffee, straight, but it's not espresso in any way, and I imagine that it disappoints people who buy it for espresso.
For coffee, or as you say, Americanos, it's great.
AeroPress is integral to my $100 Perfect Coffee Kit. The other two parts are a Zassenhaus burr grinder, ($75, or $40 on eBay) and an air popcorn device for roasting. (As little as $10, less used.)
Great coffee every morning, and green beans go for $5/lb.
There are variations on this: inexpensive coffee grinders, and a cast iron pan for roasting, or even a Whirlypop. But the result is the same: Clover quality on the cheap side.
Totally agree with you there, jayt90! My equipment is a tiny Circulon-type pan (higher sides than my cast iron skillet, and I find it a bit more controllable than cast iron), a wooden spoon, a wire basket (insert from an asparagus pan) for cooling, and a French Press for brewing. In about 12 minutes of stirring, my green beans have been transformed to a wonderful, fragrant brown - I avoid dark roasts because those mask the subtle, individual flavors of whatever type of beans I'm roasting.
They are best after a few days rest, but I never can resist trying a cup right away.
Pure heaven - and I didn't even need a $10,000 machine to make it.
well, it looks as if I now have to look into the coffee roasting to catch up: So far I have two set ups without the roaster:
1) For away from home there's the 4 inch, magnetic spice/coffee grinder that is a hand grinder http://cgi.cafr.ebay.ca/4-4-PC-XXXL-S...
with the Bodum Bistro French Press to go gadget (a strainer with the French Press action, with ears to sit on the rim of your mug) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000...
This combo is really a space saver. The grinder is quite fast and even and easy to put together.
2) An 8-inch stone Quern that grinds the coffee finer than the above grinder, for making coffee at home with the Aeropress. Maybe it's because the grounds are finer, or maybe the speed of the press, but i often get crema on the coffee with the Aeropress. (I know, I know, the espresso purists are about to complain in disbelief)
Anyhow, as you can see, I'm into the non-electric grinding solution. I wonder what I'll have to get as a roaster, and if IT can also be non-electric.....